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Wilkerson moved to Houston as a teen, and first gained recognition as a member of Ray Charles' band during the 1950s and 1960s, standing out with his soulful solos. Cannonball Adderley produced Wilkerson’s first recording session, before he recorded three blistering albums as a band leader on Blue Note alongside Grant Green. Wilkerson's album “Elder Don” in particular demonstrates a deep connection to blues, gospel and afro-cuban rhythms.  He remained in Houston for most of his life and passed away in 1986.